The Graiguenamanagh Under 15 side that defeated Bennettsbridge in the Roinn C final
A damp, blustery morning in Graiguenamanagh was the setting of this Championship decider earlier this month.
Graiguenamangh warmed up with intent relishing the benefit of a home draw and their good fortune continued when winning the toss allowed them to elect to play the first half with the benefit of the strong wind.
However, it was Bennettsbridge who started the match at a frantic pace with direct running from the Bridge midfield duo of Charlie Fitzgerald & Noah Walsh. They really had the home team on the back foot shooting two close wides, a shot off the crossbar and a fortuitous block by Gavin Kielthy kept the visiting time scoreless.
These opening five minutes marked the limit of Bennettsbridge dominance at midfield and the Graig team started to settle into the game. After six minutes Graig full forward Owen O’ Brien had the ball in the Bridge net.
Centre forward Steven Kinsella soon afterwards opened his scoring tally with a point from a free. Like Bennettsbridge, Graig also had their share of wides. Graiguenamanagh were awarded a penalty for a foul on Owen O'Brien in the rectangle, but the Bridge Keeper produced a fine save. It meant the scoreline stood at 1-1 to 0-0 at the first water break.
The second quarter saw Graiguenamangh achieving parity of possession in midfield with the Bridge and more of the game started to be played in the Bennettsbridge half. Cian O’ Shea and Colin Bolger each scored a point following some good support work in midfield from Conor Murphy.
A foul on Steven Kinsella in the 25th minute saw him point the subsequently awarded free
Bennettsbridge had their chances with a narrow wide and also forced a save from Graig keeper Cillian Redmond. Some over-elaborations in front of the Graig goal also delayed the Bridge from getting on the scoreboard during the first half with their first score eventually arriving from a pointed free just before half-time.
Half Time Scoreline Graig 1-4 BBridge 0-1
The second half meant it was the turn of Graiguenamanagh to play against the stiff breeze. A switch of positions between the Graig midfield and centre-back allowed Devon Kielthy to do an effective man-marking job on Bennettsbridge playmaker Charlie Fitzgerald.
Playing against the wind forced the Graig lads to move the ball in hand and imposed a tighter playing style on the home team which they lacked in the first half. Bennettsbridge fell into the same trap that Graig had in the first half of letting the wind carry the ball.
Graig forwards Steven Kinsella and Owen O’ Brien got points from play and Steven Kinsella also converted a free for a point. Bennettsbridge midfielder Noah Walsh also got a point from play.
This meant the 3rd quarter finished with a scoreline of 1-7 to 0-2.
The final quarter saw Bennettsbridge heap pressure on the Graig backs with Cillian Murphy forced to make a last man tackle. Some changes in the Graig forward line allowed Sean O Grady to drop back to bolster the half back line and have a big influence when Graig came under pressure.
Graig added another point from play via Steven Kinsella.
Bennettsbridge had the ball in the Graig net when a free kicked by Noah Walsh from the 45-yard line went all the way & dropped into the goal with the Graig keeper unsighted by leaping defenders. This goal lifted the Bennettsbridge team and they piled on the pressure but great defending by Jack Brown, Gavin Kielthy, Devon Kielthy and Sean O’ Grady kept Graig out of danger.
With Cian O'Shea also dropping back to shore up the defence it meant Bennettsbridge couldn't register any further scores and the game finished Graiguenamanagh 1-8 to Bennettsbridge 1-2. The final whistle finally brought some respite to the Graig backs and it was celebrations for the home team players & their supporters.
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